“Green Book” stars Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Dimeter Marinov, Mike Hatton, and P.J. Byrne. Released on November 16, 2018, the film follows the relationship between a New York bouncer and a famous black pianist.
The film is directed by Peter Farrelly, who also directed “Dumb and Dumber”. After spending half of Thanksgiving weekend reviewing highly-anticipated sequels, it’s finally time for me to head back into awards territory. This is another award-potential film that I’ve been looking forward to ever since I first saw its trailer. Not only does it have the makings of a heartwarming friendship movie with an important subject matter, but it also marks a somewhat change of pace for Peter Farrelly, who is known for directing comedies with his brother, Bobby Farrelly. So far, that change is working quite well for critics and audiences since its release last weekend, but does it work well for me? Let’s find out.
The film is based on a true story that involves Don Shirley’s (Ali) tour of the Deep South in the 1960s and his friendship with Tony Vallelonga (Mortensen), a bouncer who served as Shirley’s driver and security. The film is named after Victor Hugo Green’s The Negro Motorist Green Book, a guidebook for African-American roadtrippers who were looking for a place that welcomes people of color. The only way I can describe it is that it’s a road trip movie that deals with racism in the 60s. Films that involve road trips usually have the tendency to get characters into some crazy situations during their quest to get from point A to point B. While this film’s somehow the case, it instead focuses on the friendship between two different people, and the result is unsurprisingly an irresistible crowd-pleaser that’s full of heart and humor. One of the best things about this film is that Peter Farrelly respects the importance of friendship, regardless of color, and that he maintains his focus on the film’s plot without taking any unnecessary detours. The film’s portrayal of the 1960s can get into some safer territory due to its PG-13 rating, but for those who are uncomfortable with the adult-rated portrayal of racism, it’s probably for the best. Viggo Mortensen delivered another worthy performance as Tony Vallelonga and Mahershala Ali was once again brilliant as Don Shirley. Shirley is best described as a restrained and wise gentleman who knows that maintaining his dignity is the best way to deal with people who treat him differently, which is something that everyone should learn whenever they come across a problem like this themselves. Ali was a perfect fit for this character, and I hope he gets some recognition for his performance. The chemistry between these two characters was absolutely flawless in terms of the humor and the drama. There was never a dull moment that made me want to jump out of the car and call for a taxi. It was actually quite surprising to see Peter Farrelly handle the dramatic elements just as well as the comedy aspect.
Overall, “Green Book” is the type of road trip that I wouldn’t mind taking over and over again. Lead by the talented main leads, the film offers a healthy mixture of comedy and drama along with its respectable take on racism in the 60s. It also proves that Peter Farrelly has grown more comfortably outside of his comfort zone, which is his taste in comedies. If it’s playing at a theater near you, be sure to check it out if you get the chance.